First place: Williams Distributing, Grand Rapids,
Partnerships Promote Growth, Mutual Business Success
Blending a willingness to team up with dealer and retail customers and designers, along with a shrewd business sense, Williams has seen his business grow from a $200,000 venture into a $60-million sales enterprise within the wholesale and retail arenas. In fact, it was this astronomical growth the result of these partnerships, and an overall, well-run operation that won the company top honors in Category Two of K&BDN's second annual Industry Leadership Awards.
So, how does he do it?
First, Williams has put into action a series of inventive dealership programs, assisting dealers with their marketing and advertising efforts, and, as a result, providing a unique and much-valued service within the industry. For example, the company produces a newspaper advertising insert twice a year for dealers. Williams designs and produces the ad, which promotes an event to which a Williams-provided incentive (i.e. a KitchenAid mixer) is tied.
The company also uses incentives to encourage home buyers to visit builders' homes. It's not unusual for Williams to put up airline tickets or another type of attractive perk for a prize drawing. Of course, to win the prize, the homebuyer must register at a Williams builder's home.
While incentives are a good way to lure homebuyers, Williams
also uses a host of other concrete business strategies that have
cemented his reputation for excellence. He offers a variety of
sales support services to customers, including extensive product
training. Through these, Williams is able to augment dealers'
strong areas, helping them grow their businesses.
In addition, the company provides next-day delivery of many in-stock kitchen and bath items to a majority of its customers, helping to enhance customer satisfaction, Williams notes.
Williams notes that the true value of the company's multi-pronged success strategy is this: If his customers are successful, he is successful.
The result for the company has been an increased inventory line (Williams Distributing expanded into cabinetry in 1985 and now offers heating and air conditioning, plumbing, outdoor power equipment, and custom solid surface and laminate countertops, as well), continued retail growth (an additional seven other retail locations have been opened in Michigan), and a continually increasing staff size (the com-pany has seen its staff grow to a whopping 225 employees since its inception in 1970).
Even though he provides solid support for dealers and retail customers, Williams makes sure to include sales support for builder clients in his "bag of tricks."
By partnering with builders to staff home shows, Williams hopes that if his designers can sell the kitchen in a model home, perhaps they can sell the entire home for the builder.
This combination of partnering, risk-taking and industry knowledge has earned Williams other awards for his sales prowess, as well, such as the StarMark Platinum Sales Award.
But what Williams is most proud of is the number of customers who have remained with his company for years, or even decades. This kind of loyalty can only be earned through hard work, quality and a commitment to service, Williams believes.
Second place: The Plumbery, Sacramento, CA.
Employees Boost Growth by 'Owning' Their Own Success
The distribution of company stock enhances employees' commitment to the company. Investing in employees takes many other forms at The Plumbery, and employee training is high on the list. New employees receive training from The Plumbery personnel as well as key manufacturing partners. Training encompasses everything from preferred product lines and selling techniques to the effective use of software.
In fact, software plays a major role in The Plumbery's success, with wholesale distribution software used to link the company to its wholesale parents.
With three showrooms in the North California Bay Area (Sacramento, Dublin and San Francisco), the firm divides its business between the trade (60% of its distribution) and retail (40%). The showrooms, which focus on high-end decorative plumbing and appliances, each target different arenas.
For instance, the San Francisco showroom is all trade business, focusing on the interior design community. By contrast, the Dublin showroom targets custom homebuilders and Sacramento targets the retail contingency.
Both the Dublin and Sacramento showrooms feature working installations with live kitchen and bath displays. The company also hosts ASID meetings in its San Francisco showroom to gain visibility with its target market. Additional publicity comes from advertisements in newspapers and magazines.
The bottom line goal for the firm is to achieve the highest level of efficiency possible. To that end, Waite explains, "We are focusing on lowering transaction costs with respect to inventory [and] accounts receivable, and focusing on the point-of-sale experience. We want to make the experience on the floor more efficient."
Based on the company's profit margins (decorative plumbing region profits are at 38-40% and appliances are at 20-22%, according to Waite), it appears that his goals are being met.
Third place: Broc Supply, Allentown, PA.
Filling a Need in the Marketplace Creates a Success Story
Prior to starting his business in 1992, Chris Birosik, president and owner of Broc Supply, was a carpenter. While working on a project, he tried to acquire a certain countertop when he discovered that what he was looking for was unavailable.
It was then that he realized there was a need to be met in the kitchen and bath market and his company has been filling that need for builders and contractors (as well as for retail and remodeling customers) ever since. In fact, his success in meeting a need and growing a company around that has won him third place honors in K&BDN's second annual Industry Leadership Awards .
Initially manufacturing countertops, Birosik soon expanded Broc Supply to supply kitchen and bath cabinetry, hardware and appliances.
It's a formula that has proven successful for him. By "simply" filling a void in the marketplace, the company has grown from a two-man countertop shop to a full-scale "whotailer" with 25 employees. The com-pany plans not only to keep on growing, but to work toward "dominating the market."
To that end, Birosik and his staff focus on proven success strategies, such as keeping up with the latest trends and technology. The company accomplishes this through both attending and providing seminars to enhance training and keep abreast of the latest trends.
Seminars may be held in one of Broc's two showrooms,
at its production facilities. Additionally, Birosik has plans to expand the seminar program in the near future to include cooking seminars.
Furthermore, with both ends of the firm's business (which breaks
down 70% to 30%, builders to retail customers), "everything is done
in-house," giving the company complete autonomy over its
As Birosik explains, "We don't rely on other people. We control the whole gamut. If you want a remodeling job, we control it all. The advantage is we don't have to worry about subcontracting."
To ensure quality, employees also receive three months of
With a well-trained staff, a home-based operation that allows the firm to control projects from start to finish, and a willingness to keep filling needs in the market, Broc Supply anticipates a future filled with continued success.